2020 Oscar Predictions — Best Documentary Short Subject

Since writing my piece on the Best Animated Short Film category, I have caught up with my blindspot in that field, Dcera. Unfortunately, I find myself in a similar situation. Even more unfortunately, my blindspot in the Best Documentary Short Subject category is a pretty heavy contender: St. Louis Superman. But I have read up on the film enough that I think I can properly gauge its current place in the race.

And it is a close race at that.

The Nominees:

  • In the Absence
  • Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
  • Life Overtakes Me
  • St. Louis Superman
  • Walk Run Cha-Cha

Will Win: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone

Could Win: St. Louis Superman

Dark Horse: In the Absence


Netflix has won the Best Documentary Short Subject award three times in the last decade, including last year for Period. End of Sentence. Compared to that film, Life Overtakes Me looks a bit pale. It does not stand out in the crowded field, either (the shorts are all quite good). Frankly, I don’t think Netflix’s film goes deep enough into its subject matter to resonate with the voting body.

Similarly, there is a lack of urgency in the semi-feel good Walk Run Cha-Cha. It is a film that could win as a counter-programming measure to some of the category’s more disheartening films, but even then it doesn’t quite hold a candle to Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl).

This film and St. Louis Superman are looking like the front-runners in this race. In the Absence has an outside chance, as it is a politically stirring and heart-wrenching piece. It could stick in people’s memories. But the U.S.-centric politics of St. Louis Superman may hold more sway with the Academy. Even so, Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone seems to have the correct formula of tone to lock down top votes.


As always, thanks for reading!

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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)


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